This Time Self-Hosted
dark mode light mode Search

My hell: cabling

So today trying to relax after hearing the election’s results (and I’m not happy about them at all! If you’re american, just think what it would be like to have Bush doing a third term!) I decided to get some more cabling done.

My idea was to disconnect the lights of the stairwell, use the fishhook to get some new cables in there, and change the way they were wired so that the switches act on the phase rather than the return (yes I know that European standards would require to disconnect both phase and return, it’s just not feasible with the kind of tubes I have in this house).

Unfortunately, the way the lights are wired, it’s impossible for me to connect them properly without going around with the cables in half my house. Which is not something I’m keen on doing.

At this point, I’m considering two options: an hard one that would require me to pass cables still around half my house, but using a relay to avoid moving around so many cables with 220V power, and an easier more expensive one, using two relays, both timed, connected one each light. This is usually good enough for what we need the lights for (going up and down the stairs) and would probably make us save power by not letting us forget it on (which is something my mother does quite often).

I have to decide this tomorrow morning, as I’ll go to the hardware store in the afternoon, so I need some help deciding between the two options. My main concern is where to put the relay: I can probably fit it in the main distribution box for the first solution, whichever the size of the relay is. But for solution two, I’m not sure where to put the relay. I hoped that Vimar had switch-sized relays but I can only see on their size “actuators” in size two, and I don’t have enough space for size two :/

I could probably move the relays in the nearest distribution box, but then I’ll have cables going around again, and I don’t have space enough to pass all of them. An alternative would be to use an unshielded twisted pair cable, phone-rated, it should be enough to get a 12V signal around. But is it safe? I’d like some opinions on that.

Best thing would be for me to know if there are cubic-sized relays that I can fit directly in the switches box. But sincerely, I’m not used to work with relays, so I’m not even sure how they are actually sized nowaday, and which connections they need. So if any tech has some comments to leave, I’d be happy 🙂

Comments 1
  1. Can’t say on the relays, but on the 12V wire, there’s “safe” and there’s safe. At least US standards say you can’t commonly route mains voltage and low voltage in the same conduit — and that’s 125V mains, too; you probably have 250V there. OTOH, it’s acceptable to simply route the 12V “bare”, that is, simply standard insulation and jacketing.Another alternative you might consider is mains power at one end (whichever is easiest), with an RF linked remote at the other. This might be a bit more expensive, but isn’t likely to be if you consider your time worth much, at least given the routing headaches you mention. The products I’ve seen do indeed fit in standard (US at least) switch boxes. The remote uses, IIRC, a 9V battery, or of course you could wire a cheap battery eliminator mains adapter and plug into whatever’s closest.Depending on your layout and the need, I believe I’ve actually seen three-way RF setups as well. Put the mains switch wherever, and use the remote RF switches at both top and bottom. Of course, this costs more yet, and if you have old plaster on chicken-wire or the like walls, RF transmission may limit your placement of the mains switch.One more possibility. Over here, some years ago, they had (rather ubiquitous) ads on TV for “The Clapper”, “Clap-on <clap, clap=””>, clap-off <clap, clap=””>.” (The comedians had fun with that… “What happens if you get the thing and the ad comes on?” I remember one asking.) If you can locate it well, perhaps a single “clapper” would work? (Apparently, it detects any decent noise, so one-handed slapping the wall or whatever if the other hand is full, should work. You can set it to multiple claps I believe, thus allowing two different ones in the same area without functional interference.)Just a bit of brainstorming…Duncan

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.